This week’s adventure has been to travel across the infamous Nullarbor Plain from Ceduna in South Australia across to Norseman in Western Australia – a distance of 1,180 kms or 773 miles. In true pootling style we took our time and did it over four days but it could have been done in two. Horror stories of gas stations running out of fuel and there being nothing much to see was not our experience. Fuel was plentiful (if expensive) and there was lots to see along the way as this blog will illustrate!
N is for No Trees or Nullus Arbor
Strictly speaking there are lots of trees going across the Nullarbor, but there is a treeless area as captured in the following changing vegetation sequence.
U is for Unknowns
Two things we weren’t prepared for. The first was the Quarantine Restrictions. We thought we had it sussed now in terms of fresh fruit, vegetables and honey and had used all of these up in advance. It came as quite a surprise to learn from a lovely couple we met in Ceduna that our supply of nuts and rice would have to vanish which was especially annoying as we’d only just replenished them! We couldn’t have donated our nuts to a nicer couple though (welcome to the Blog V & J) and ended up cooking all the rice!!! The Quarantine official who came into our van and checked inside the fridge, freezer and larder cupboards thankfully wasn’t that thorough as I suspect we might also have had to part with our frozen prawns!
The other unknown was how much of a time difference there was between SA and WA. At the other side of the Quarantine Station there was a police patrol. The policeman said “Good Morning” to which Mike corrected him with a “I think it is Good Afternoon”. “Not here mate” said the guy “It’s 10.45 in the morning” and then promptly asked Mike to blow into the breathalyser machine!!! We actually thought the time difference was a mere half an hour behind SA. It turned out to be 1 hour 15 minutes difference for the first few hours of driving and then changed again by another 45 minutes – making a total of two and a half hours difference – something we’re still adjusting to!
L is for Learner Driver and
L is for Longest Road
I always said I’d give driving the van a go when the roads were quieter and not too twisty. Well I got my opportunity driving Australia’s longest straight road – only trouble was every time I got into the driving seat it rained and so I had to operate the wipers as well!!! I did actually enjoy the experience although I’m not quite ready for towns or reverse parking!
A is for Ancient Things
Although we couldn’t get down the road to the Eucla Telegraph Station Ruins, we did see the original Nullarbor Roadhouse and visited the Balladonia Museum to learn some amusing facts. For example, when they brought the first camels ashore in 1894 they did not know for certain whether they could swim, so one was dropped overboard. It promptly rolled onto its side and swam to shore, leading the way for the remainder! The only camel we saw was the stuffed version in the museum although a local man told us there were still around 200 roaming around the place.
The other interesting fact was that a trail of space debris was scattered across this part of Australia in 1979 when a US satellite burned up on re-entry and crashed. American President, Jimmy Carter, rang the Balladonia Roadhouse to extend his apologies. A few days later the largest piece of debris was exhibited on stage at the closing ceremony of the Miss Universe contest in Perth – unfortunately the stage collapsed under the weight!!!
Also on show were a pre-Second World War Boiler, a wool press and a replica RedeX Round Australia Reliability Trial car. An eclectic mix if ever!
R is for Road Trains
Mistakenly we thought the roads would be fairly empty of traffic. The roads were not busy by UK standards but we were surprised by the number of road trains hurtling along. The only thing we overtook was cyclists!
B is for Bight
That is the Great Australian Bight. No whales to be seen unfortunately but the Bunda Cliffs are spectacular along this marine conservation area.
O is for Orange Sunsets
Even after a thunder and lightening storm the sky turned orange.
R is for Roadhouses and Rest Areas
This was our first Roadhouse experience. Roadhouses are a bit like our Service Stations in the UK – expensive fuel, meals, shop and motel. When we booked into the Caravan Park we were told about Happy Hour between 4 and 5 p.m. Not wanting to be unsociable we duly wandered over and the only other people in the bar were a couple of bikers and two guys playing pool. I felt my namesake – a right Sheila!!!
The next two nights we made use of Jura’s onboard self contained facilities and stayed in beautiful Rest Areas. These were large areas off the highway you could park up overnight. They came with concrete picnic tables, drop toilets and wonderful sunsets – all for free!
We have now been on the road for over 100 days. We haven’t achieved anything like as much as a certain Mr T did in his first 100 days of office but we’ve had a lot of fun and there’s been heaps of learning.